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FOOTBALL BAN: NIGERIA WON'T VIOLATE FIFA RULE – FG

By NBF News

Bio
Following reactions that trailed Federal Government's decision to ban the country from participating in all FIFA's competitions in the next two years, government has said it will do everything not to violate FIFA's rules. The Minister of Sports, Ibrahim Bio told State House Correspondents yesterday that government was trying to liaise with FIFA in order to get things done without necessarily violating FIFA rules.

'Nigeria will do everything possible to take the interest and sovereignty of Nigeria first and foremost and if that is in conformity with FIFA rules, so be it, but if it is not in conformity with FIFA rules I think the sovereignty of Nigeria and interests of the people are most paramount.

'As you are all aware, Nigeria is so passionate about sports and we are relying on players from foreign clubs like Chelsea and the rest. We should have players that are home based and those who also play in the international scene then we know that they are those who are going to represent Nigeria. 'We are trying to have a deliberate policy whereby we can encourage our local league to be very attractive so that not every time we have to be relying on foreign-based players and when they are not available we continue to wait until their football seasons are over,' he said.

The minister also decried a situation whereby the ministry and the Nigeria Football Federation had been at loggerheads each time there was a competition, stressing that it was not good for football development in the country.

'Again a situation whereby we have competitions and the supervisory ministry and NFF, the lack of cooperation between them does not augur well for our football. Nobody is taking anybody's job but in the interest of this country, people should be able to talk and do things better.

What we presented at the World Cup, particularly some of the misses by our players, shows complete lack of commitment on the part of our players. I cannot imagine an international player missing a goal, that is almost two to three metres to the net and he is laughing or smiling, there is no sign of regret. That is the level of patriotism that gets Nigerian government concerned. They should show some sense of remorse and regret so that the people will not say that it was an intended action.

'Invariably, what we want to do is to get people who by their experience will restructure and reorganise our football and start right from the grassroots, invigorate the clubs and encourage more football academy where we can get young men to replace the present ones. That takes time and experience.

'Government is trying to liaise with FIFA in order to get these things done without necessarily violating FIFA rules. Nigeria will do everything possible to take the interest and sovereignty of Nigeria first and foremost and if that is in conformity with FIFA rules, so be it, but if it is not in conformity with FIFA rules I think the sovereignty of Nigeria and interests of the people are most paramount.

'My friends, you cannot have cancer and continue to live with it because you don't want to spill blood, we are ready to spill blood to remove the cancer, so be it. Decree 101 is where the real conflict comes. It has been in existence and it is still within our statute books. Before my coming, there was an agreement between my predecessor and FIFA that decree 101 will be amended. That has been with the National Assembly. As far as Nigeria government is concerned, that decree is still within the statute books because the National Assembly has not amended it. So it is not my fault.'